For a downloadable version of our import template, please click here.

1. Separate organizations from your list of individuals

Contacts that may be businesses or foundations cannot be processed through the self-importer as an organizational contact. But good news: we can import these organizational contacts for you! 

To get these processed, simply save all organizational contacts in a separate file and submit them to our trusty import team. Find out more on that here

2. Make sure everyone has a first name

If you do not have a first name for all your contacts, here are some workarounds you can use:

  • If you have an email address but no first name, you can copy and paste the email address in the first name field as a placeholder. 

  • If you have a last name but no first name, you can move the last name into the first name field.

  • If you have a last name and an email address but no first name, we recommend pasting the email address in the first name field as a placeholder. 

Tip: These ideas above are just interim solutions, you definitely want first names for all your contacts! If you use the email address as a placeholder for first name, you can create a contact filter: First name contains @ to display all your contacts that are missing their first name. You can either email these folks and ask them to fill out a form with their first name so you can then fix their records or, have volunteers or board members call down to update any missing contact information.

3. Format your spreadsheet to add contacts to groups or map information to custom fields

First things first: create any groups or custom fields in your donor management system before importing. Not sure where to get started? No worries, we've got articles to help you create  groups and custom fields in your donor management system. 

Here's how to organize group and custom field information in your spreadsheet before importing:

  • Each group should be represented in it's own column in your spreadsheet. For example, let's say you have created groups in your system to track board members, major donors, and gala volunteers. You'll want to create three columns to capture group membership for each of these groups. 

  • Each custom field will have their own column. (Learn more about custom field types here.) 

4. Remove all unwanted or unneeded fields from your file

Your previous system or tracking method may have information you no longer want to keep. If that's the case, just delete those fields from your file! 

Our self-importer will always attempt to map any and all of the columns that you have in your file so by removing this unwanted information, you'll save yourself time during the import process when you map the file you are uploading to the available fields in your donor management system. 

5. Review your file

Last but not least, you'll want to review the file after you've completed your clean up! 

  • Do you see any fields that are blank that shouldn't be? Check for First Name, Last Name, Email, Address, etc. 

  • Are all of the custom fields and groups you need listed out correctly? 

  • How is your donation date formatted? You want to make sure you have an exact date listed otherwise, you'll get an error. And, when it comes to formatting, the YYYY/MM/DD date format work best. If you use a custom formatting feature in your Excel file, you'll need to save the file as an Excel spreadsheet as CSV files will not properly save any specialized formatting.

Once you've completed this step, you're ready to start importing! We're here for you should you run into any issues so don't hesitate to reach out. To start your self-import simply go to Giving or Contacts in your Donor Management System and click import in the top right corner to get started. 

Take your cleanup a step further and learn how you can avoid self-import errors.

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